Introduction: Coal-Roasted Steak

You may have several reasons to cook a steak directly on top of the coals of a fire. Maybe you showed up at your campsite and forgot to bring a grill or pan of any kind. Maybe you're trying to show off your fire-whispering skills for your friends. Or maybe you are just really curious to see if it will actually work without just burning the steak and leaving an inedible lump.

We used the third reason, and were pleasantly impressed when the steak turned out perfectly cooked, ash-free, and with a hint of delicious smoke flavor.


  • Steak
  • Seasoning of choice (we like Montreal seasoning)


  • Fire (wood and a fire-starting device)
  • Something to get the steak out of the fire with

Step 1: Make Coals

Build a fire using untreated wood (hardwood works best if you have some). The most important thing is to not use charcoal briquettes, as these will leave residue on the steak.

Let the fire burn down until you have a nice pile of glowing coals.

Step 2: Prep the Steak

Season your steak with your rub or herbs of choice. We used Montreal steak seasoning, and found it was especially effective because the large spice chunks let the juices run and held it just barely above the coals below.

Step 3: Grill to Your Liking

Make a relatively flat pile of coals and place the steak directly on top. Cook the steak on both sides until it reaches your desired level of doneness. If you prefer things to be exact, follow this internal temperature chart (the USDA tends to add 10 degrees to all of these):

  • Rare: 120-125
  • Medium Rare: 125-135
  • Medium: 135-145
  • Medium Well: 145-155
  • Well Done: 155+, but also, why?

If any coals stick to the steak when you turn it, knock them off. They won't do any harm.

Step 4: Take It Off the Fire

When your steak is done to your liking, pull it off the fire using tongs, a hook, or tree branch chopsticks if you don't have utensils of any kind.

Serve and enjoy! This steak has all the juicy, slightly smoky taste of fire-grilled steak without the need for a grill.

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